Aggressive use of Batesian mimicry by an ant-like jumping spider

Ximena J. Nelson, Robert R. Jackson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


Batesian and aggressive mimicry are united by deceit: Batesian mimics deceive predators and aggressive mimics deceive prey. This distinction is blurred by Myrmarachne melanotarsa, an ant-like jumping spider (Salticidae). Besides often preying on salticids, ants are well defended against most salticids that might target them as potential prey.Earlier studies have shown that salticids identify ants by their distinctive appearance and avoid them. They also avoid ant-like salticids from the genus Myrmarachne. Myrmarachne melanotarsa is an unusual species from this genus because it typically preys on the eggs and juveniles of ant-averse salticid species. The hypothesis considered here is that, for M. melanotarsa, the distinction between Batesian and aggressive mimicry is blurred. We tested this by placing female Menemerus sp. and their associated hatchling within visual range of M. melanotarsa, its model, and various non-ant-like arthropods. Menemerus is an ant-averse salticid species. When seeing ants or ant mimics, Menemerus females abandoned their broods more frequently than when seeing non-ant-like arthropods or in control tests (no arthropods visible), as predicted by our hypothesis that resembling ants functions as a predatory ploy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)755-757
Number of pages3
JournalBiology Letters
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 23 Dec 2009


  • Aggressive mimicry
  • Ant mimicry
  • Batesian mimicry
  • Deceit
  • Predation


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